Merry Christmas, Vancity Buzz readers!
The Vancouver Canucks come out of their quick three-day Christmas break by hosting the Edmonton Oilers to kick off a seven-game homestand. The Canucks last played on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, picking up a 2-1 win.
After a poor start to their six-game road trip, the Canucks picked up five out of a possible six points in their last three games. They’ll look to continue their recent strong play against the visiting Oilers.
Game Time: 7:00pm
The Oilers have quietly piled up 19 points in their last 16 games, to move within three points of the Canucks in the Pacific Division. And this, of course, is without rookie Connor McDavid in the lineup. However, the Oilers have not played well on the road, and they’ve lost their last three away games coming into Vancouver.
Leading scorers are forwards Taylor Hall (39 points), Leon Draisaitl (30), Teddy Purcell (23), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (23). Goaltender Anders Nilsson won the starting job from Cam Talbot, posting slightly better numbers (2.79 GAA to 3.00 GAA and .910 SV% to .904 SV%), though they have alternated starts recently.
The Canucks have only played 14 home games so far this season (compared to 22 road games), sporting a poor 5-6-3 record in those games. In fact, only the San Jose Sharks have played fewer home games this year with 13.
Minus the Torts year, the Canucks have traditionally been a decent team at home. With the Canucks’ next seven games at Rogers Arena, Vancouver has a wonderful opportunity to improve their home record and improve their position in the standings, especially given that their next four games are against Pacific Division foes: Oilers, Kings, Ducks, and Coyotes.
When captain Henrik Sedin left the December 17 game against the Philadelphia Flyers with a lower-body injury, Canucks fans were rightfully concerned as to who would fill the scoring void. In the final three games of the road trip, six forwards scored goals for Vancouver: Sven Baertschi (3), Daniel Sedin (2), Jared McCann, Radim Vrbata, Jannik Hansen, and Derek Dorsett.
The team is getting the secondary scoring that they desperately need to be a competitive hockey team. In particular, the Baertschi-Bo Horvat combo has looked good in the past three games, combining for six points during that span. On two of Baertschi’s goals, Horvat has carried the puck into the slot – dragging defenders with him – before passing off to the wing to an open Baertschi. Their recent success has been a confidence-builder for both youngsters.
This bodes well for the team as they look forward to the return of centre Brandon Sutter sometime in January. Sutter seems to be a lynchpin for the lineup and it will interesting to see what the lines will look like when he returns.
Heading into Christmas, the Canucks had five regulars out with injuries: Ryan Miller, Chris Higgins, Brandon Sutter, Luca Sbisa, and Dan Hamhuis.
Coach Desjardins: Miller & Tanev not able to go tonight and are listed as day-to-day. Higgins skated today but won't play tonight.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 26, 2015
Miller left the Florida game on December 20 with cramps and he didn’t even dress for the Tampa Bay game on December 22. It appears he has a mystery injury.
Chris Tanev blocked a shot near the end of the game against the Lightning and limped off the ice.
Higgins didn’t dress for the Tampa Bay game after being given a maintenance day on December 21.
The Canucks’ depth on defence will be tested again tonight, as they’ll be without both Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis. Jacob Markstrom will get his second straight start in net with Ryan Miller out.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Hansen|
This is a game that Canucks should win. It’s the first game of a long homestand, and the fans will likely be in a festive mood. I will be at the game with singing superstars Marie Hui and Arielle Tuliao as guests of the team; apparently they will be showing our Canucks Christmas song on the Jumbotron sometime during the game.
Thus, in a perfect world, the Canucks will be winning when they show the video making the Rogers Arena crowd more receptive to it.
The Canucks will win 4-2. And I’ll make some New Year’s resolutions to exercise more after seeing myself on the big screen.